Above: Q360 is a single unified professional services automation software package from Solutions360 which includes project management and service dispatch scheduling. Screenshots courtesy Solutions360.
Most integrators want a software package that will follow their technicians to the field and allow them paperless, real-time access and updates from the system. With Internet access available almost everywhere, that dream is within reach.
SedonaOffice’s Michael Marks said he sees inexpensive $500 to $1,000 tablet devices like the iPad enabling workers to be in touch all the time without coming back to the office. While the Windows mobile phone usually has a tiny display, tablets are available that are browser based. Companies like HP, Dell and Samsung are also working on versions.“Your iPad can be platform neutral and browser-based,” Marks noted.
Many developers echo Solutions360’s John Graham, who said they prefer to be “platform agnostic.” Web portals remain the access of choice. Graham said he is not sure if the iPad will take over the service market since most technicians are not looking for fancy display but plain information. “The Android is the real up-and-comer,” he commented.
However, any technology–when multiplied by the number of in-the-field workers–can become expensive. This is reinforcing the continued popularity of the BlackBerry as a rugged, simple portal.